I so often read stories of people who have stumbled, struggled, or fallen on hard times. In many of these posts the focus is on how they failed. Who they let down. Where they went wrong. They struggle to identify the value in failure. The lessons they learnt and can teach. The don’t frame it as a good thing.
An example of a post that failed to see the value in failure.
This morning I read a post from a woman who had been through so much. A lifetime of bullying and loss. As a result of this she suffered a breakdown and for three months was bed ridden and unable to care for her children.
In the full post not once did this mum talk about how since recovering she had given her children a great example of how to strive and persevere. Not once did she talk about how her children had the opportunity to learn if you don’t care for yourself you will become unhappy or unwell. Not once did she talk about the opportunities from what she had learnt. She did not talk about the imperfect, perfect mum she was.
Her focus was about how she had let her children down and they were now in her eyes struggling because of those three months. That she believed she had failed and this was the conclusion of the story.
I understand children are reliant on our love and care to thrive. I also know that we can not choose how we impact other people. We act, they decide the impact. And yes with the potential negative impacts there is also potential for positive impacts. For success.
From someone that was impacted in a number of ways that people would perceive as negative. I am living proof you can influence the impact the world has on you and make negatives, positives. Turn failure into success.
Has anyone ever really succeeded without failing a little on the way?
I mean look at all the great successes in the world. Triumphs often built on failure. How many failed attempts do you think Curie had before her many successes. (If anyone does know please tell me would love to find out.) How many times did we attempt to send a rocket into space before man walked on the moon. How many times have people failed only to succeed.
Celebrating the effort not the outcome.
Yet we don’t celebrate our failures in the same way we do our successes. Surly it is the attempt to succeed that we should celebrate. Is it not the trying that matters most?
It feels like there should be prizes for trying your hardest. Tried hardest to win first place in a race. Tried hardest to succeed in business. Tried hardest to be the best at…
We hold success on such a pedestal and often for those just starting out, the top of the mountain feels unachievable. In not making the journey visible by not celebrating the failures along the way, we make it harder for other people to persevere.
In the same way the world often paints an unrealistic view of beauty are we painting an unrealistic view of success?
Success is not linear.
Another thing we forget is success and failure are not linear. You don’t fail, fail, fail then succeed. You might succeed a bit, then fail a bit, then succeed or fail a bit more. We have to learn to celebrate the journey.
Where ever you are on your journey to happiness. Don’t give up you can be happy. Happy beyond compare. Happy without doubt.
The impact of not celebrating failure.
What ever journey someone is setting out on if we don’t celebrate the failures of similar paths, we are setting unrealistic expectations. We risk ending someone’s journey rather than them swing failure as a steeping stone towards success.
Take mental health. Those struggling often look at those people doing well and think. That’s not me, they must be stronger, I am sicker, I can’t achieve that. If they do try and then meet a set back they use that as proof they were right. They settle back into their normal and decide it was wrong to try for more.
From someone that has been on this journey my whole life trust me you can and do deserve happiness. If you persevere you will obtain it. You might not succeed straight away or all the time but you will succeed.
Just keep on succeeding, failing then succeeding some more and you will find your way.
How to celebrate failure.
Use it as a reminder you are human. And in being so are unique and connected to this shared ability to fail.
Keep a lessons learnt list. Look for the lesson, the thing you learnt and jot it down on a list. You will feel better seeing the productive things come out of your failure.
Teach others. Share your failures in an open and positive way to help others always makes a failure feel more valuable.
Set goals based on the effort not the outcome. Celebrate milestones of action or effort rather than the end outcome.